5.1.6 Labour laws
Artists fall within the general body of case law in this area. The UK Government has sought exemption from EU Directives concerning the maximum number of hours employees can work.
Arts Council England commissioned the Institute for Employment Research and the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, at the University of Warwick, to undertake research on artists' labour markets and the effect of tax and benefits systems. The report, entitled A balancing act - artists, labour markets and the tax and benefits system, was published in December 2002 and presents findings from a series of focus groups with practising artists, which explored their experiences of employment, the impact of UK tax and social security systems on their career and business choices, and their ability to sustain viable professional lives. Analysis of artists' labour markets was also undertaken, examining employment status, working patterns, earnings and take-up of social security benefits - the report is available at: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/documents/publications/phpLI8ihP.pdf.
Section 6 of the Child (Performances) Regulations Act 1968 was revoked in 2000 - this removed restrictions that prevented Local Education Authorities (LEAs) from granting a licence allowing a child to take part in a public performance if the child would, in the twelve months before that performance, have taken part in other performances on more than a certain number of days. Concern has been expressed that it leaves children more open to exploitation by the performing arts industry, particularly since there are few guidelines on rehearsal time and LEAs often do not have the capacity to police the laws. The difference in interpretation from one LEA to another also causes producers problems when negotiating with them to avoid contravention of insurance policies.
A government commissioned report on licensing laws relating to performances by children was published in March 2010. The report, by Sarah Thane CBE, concluded that existing regulations were outdated and inconsistently applied across the country. It is expected that the government will consult in 2011 on changing the legislation in England, including reducing the administration involved, especially for amateur groups.
In 2006 legislation was approved governing those working with children (and vulnerable adults) on a "frequent" (i.e. once a week) or "intensive" (four or more days in a 30 day period) basis. This required the vetting of such individuals (including checks with the Criminal Records Bureau) before they came into contact with young people. Although concerns were expressed by artists whose work brought them into contact with children, the provisions have yet to be fully implemented. It is understood that the new government may review the current regulations to make them less complex and less onerous, while ensuring suitable safeguards.
See also comparative information provided in the Compendium "Themes!" section under "Status of Artists".